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Roy’s Rants: FC Bayern Munich-The Jewish Connection

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Last month The Hanns Seidel Foundation organized the Israeli premiere of the Documentary film “Kick It Like Kurt”, at the Cinematheque in Jerusalem a movie based on Bayern Munich’s Jewish president Kurt Landauer.

In honor of the Israeli debut the filmmakers were present including the Director, Nadine Filler, co-producer Konstantin Schlund and production manager Sylvia Holhut. Following the movie a discussion was held and hosted by Tal Heinrich with the filmmakers and Professor Moshe Zimmerman.

Many football fans are unaware of the fact that there is a strong connection between Bayern Munich and the Jewish people to this day. Not only does Bayern’s Schickeria Ultras group battle Anti-Semitism but their Jewish connection goes back to the days of when Landauer, Bayern’s Jewish President presided over the club.

Courtesy FCBayern.de

Courtesy FCBayern.de

Who was Kurt Landauer?

Kurt Landauer (1884-1961) was FC Bayen Munich’s president for three different terms, the first between 1913 and 1914, but left to fight for the German army in WWI, the second term lasted over 12 years from 1919 to 1933 when he was forced out by the Nazi regime and the third term after WWII, 1947 to 1951.

Under Landauer’s presidency, Bayern won their first German championship in 1932 and also built up the Bayern brand by participating in European tours. His work around the continent would help him later on when times became tough for the Jews of Europe. Landauer was also a pioneer in his cosmopolitan (international) approach to the game of football.

Following the Nazi’s rise to power, Landauer was forced to resign from his post in of March 1933, and subsequently was sent to the Dachau concentration camp near Munich in November 1938, but thanks to his German army past he was released after just 33 days of imprisonment. After being freed, Landauer emigrated to Switzerland and when Bayern Munich visited Geneva for a friendly match against FC Servette, the team and management approached him for a short conversation when they saw him in the stands. Upon the club’s return to Munich this gesture was seen as a “betrayal” by the Nazi regime and the team was reprimanded.

On his return to Germany, Landauer learned that his entire family except for one relative was murdered by the Nazis. He also began to receive compensation for his suffering from the German government and decided to donate his first check to FC Bayern (10,000 DM), but the club told him that his gesture was unnecessary and that he should keep the check.

Courtesy DFB.de

Courtesy DFB.de

Unfortunately, Landauer’s story and legacy was not known by most of Germany’s football fans and film producer Nadine Filler encountered difficulties when she approached FC Bayern about Landauer and his history with the club. In contrast to Bayern’s management, the Schickeria Ultras group hold a tournament each year since 2006 to commemorate his life.

In October 2014 Schickeria won the “Julius Hirsch award” (named after Karlsruhe’s Jewish player murdered in Auschwitz in 1943) for their work in honoring Landauer. The award is given each year by the German Football Federation (DFB) to encourage acts against discrimination, inequality and intolerance.

The Movie

The movie tells us Landauer’s story, the close relationship between the Nazi Regime and Bayern Munich’s local rivals Munich 1860 during WWII as well as focusing on the present day work by Schickeria against racism and Anti-Semitism. Film director Nadine Filler herself not a football fan was intrigued about Kurt Landauer’s life story and made the movie showing a deep interest in his history.

In addition, production manager Sylvia Holhut and co-producer Konstantin Schlund who works for Bayern and Sky Germany were present at the Israeli debut. They were both asked by moderator Tal Heinrich why Bayern Munich is so hesitant to commemorate Kurt Landauer’s legacy. They said that they had asked Bayern about this and also requested that the club send a member of the team while filming the movie, however the only member of Bayern that was mad available to them was former President Ulli Hoeness. Perhaps Bayern is scared of its historic past, they commented.

Tal Heinrich, Sylvia Holhut, Nadine Filler, Konstantin Schlund and Prof Moshe Zimmerman-Courtesy Roy Jankelowitz

Tal Heinrich, Sylvia Holhut, Nadine Filler, Konstantin Schlund and Prof Moshe Zimmerman-Courtesy Roy Jankelowitz

Recently, Bayern held an exhibition at their museum in memory of the Jewish players from their past, so it seems the club’s attitude may be changing.

The film makers adopted Landauer as a role model for solidarity and cooperation between Munich’s Jewish residents and non-Jews as they conduct sessions about the film for school children and university students, among others.

A special thank you to Naomi Mittelmann of the Hanns Seidel Foundation for coordinating the visit.